Saturday, March 30, 2019

Book Giveaway: American Duchess by Karen Harper

Before there was Meghan Markle, there was Consuelo Vanderbilt, the original American Duchess.  Perfect for readers of Jennifer Robson and lovers of Downton Abbey.
Karen Harper tells the tale of Consuelo Vanderbilt, her “The Wedding of the Century” to the Duke of Marlborough, and her quest to find meaning behind “the glitter and the gold.”
On a cold November day in 1895, a carriage approaches St Thomas Episcopal Church on New York City’s Fifth Avenue. Massive crowds surge forward, awaiting their glimpse of heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt. Just 18, the beautiful bride has not only arrived late, but in tears, yet her marriage to the aloof Duke of Marlborough proceeds. Bullied into the wedding by her indomitable mother, Alva, Consuelo loves another. But a deal was made, trading some of the vast Vanderbilt wealth for a title and prestige, and Consuelo, bred to obey, realizes she must make the best of things.
At Blenheim Palace, Consuelo is confronted with an overwhelming list of duties, including producing an “heir and a spare,” but her relationship with the duke quickly disintegrates. Consuelo finds an inner strength, charming everyone from debutantes to diplomats including Winston Churchill, as she fights for women’s suffrage. And when she takes a scandalous leap, can she hope to attain love at last…?
From the dawning of the opulent Gilded Age, to the battles of the Second World War, American Duchess is a riveting tale of one woman’s quest to attain independence—at any price.

Here is a book for those who love historical fiction based upon a real person. You can purchase a copy at Amazon.

Here is RRT's review:
A Novel of Consuelo Vanderbilt 
William Morrow 
ISBN: 978-0-06-274833-1 
February 2019     
United States, England, France - Early 20th Century 

Consuelo Vanderbilt tells us her story in this intriguing, and poignant tale of a mother wanting the prestige of being related to royalty, and a poverty-stricken duke who only wants to save his heritage and produce an heir. 

At the age of eighteen, Consuelo Vanderbilt, heiress to William K. Vanderbilt, American tycoon, was wed to the Duke of Marlborough, known to all as Sunny. It was Consuelo's mother, Alva, who forced the union.  For Sunny, marrying an heiress was a way to save his beloved family home, Blenheim Palace. Consuelo was helpless to stop the wedding, even though she loved another man.  

Even from their earliest meeting, it was clear to Consuelo that Sunny was only marrying her for the money her parents promised to give him. She was lost in the vast palace at Blenheim and struggled to be the duchess Sunny required. Thankfully, she had some of his relatives, including Winston Churchill, who became a life-long friend, to assist her in her duties. As far as Sunny was concerned, restoring Blenheim was more important than almost anything, except providing a male heir.  

Consuelo worked hard to fit in, and soon she made friends with the royals, traveled, and began to devote herself to charity work in the small village surrounding Blenheim. She became known as the village angel for her down-to-earth and caring personality. Sunny could have cared less. They lived separate lives almost from the beginning, even after she produced "an heir and a spare" for him. Devoted to her sons, yet she yearned for a more fulfilling emotional life.  

AMERICAN DUCHESS is a beautifully written, well researched tale of a by-gone day. Consuelo was well known to Newport and New York society, and her elevation to duchess was hailed by those who put class above all. But to Consuelo, it was a stepping stone to helping others, and to eventually find true love and happiness. I highly recommend this lovely book. 

Jani Brooks

Want to win a print copy of this book?
Post a comment and you'll be entered.
Open to U.S. mailing addresses only.


Karen H said...

I'm beginning to really enjoy books of the early 20th century, thanks to the popularity of Downton Abbey. I would love to win a copy of this book. It sounds like a wonderful read. Thanks for the chance to win.

Amy said...

I love historical fiction, and this book sounds so good! Also I don't know anything about Consuelo Vanderbilt so I'd be excited to win this book.

Mo Boylan said...

This sounds very interesting and I would love to learn more about Consuela